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Jerry Kirk

Detroit Strikers Fight
Mass Firing of Union Leaders

(17 March 1945)

From The Militant, Vol. IX No. 12, 24 March 1945, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

DETROIT, March 17. – A five-day strike at the Thompson Products plant here this week ended after the company agreed to rehire 20 of 26 fired union leaders and lift the suspensions of 126 other members of CIO United Automobile Workers Local 247, whose victimization provoked the strike.

The company further agreed to arbitrate the cases of the six not rehired, who include the union president, the financial secretary and four leading committeemen and shop stewards. These, however, were the main targets of the company’s union-busting attack. It is obvious that the wholesale firings and suspensions were a deliberate device for securing a “compromise” that would still enable the company to behead the union’s leadership.

The settlement of this strike follows the pattern of that in the Briggs and Chrysler strikes, which occurred just previously. In the Briggs settlement, eight of the 16 leading militants whose firing provoked the strike are still out on the street pending arbitration.

Other than verbally protesting the company’s provocations and declaring the strike a “lockout,” the top UAW leaders took no decisive action to defend the Thompson Products local. Even this gesture was denied by these craven leaders to the Briggs workers.

Union Wreckers

The developments at Thompson Products are further evidence of the organized and concerted union-busting campaign of the auto corporations. The bosses are looking ahead to the termination of the war and huge production cutbacks and unemployment. Their strategy is to undermine the local leaderships now, intimidate the membership, and prepare for a final crushing open-shop blow when the unions are sufficiently weakened by preliminary softening up and unemployment.

Following closely on the heels of the Thompson Products strike, the NLRB has come to the aid of the company by announcing a collective bargaining election, although the UAW already has a signed contract with the company. This maneuver was first employed by Montgomery Ward’s Sewell Avery as a pretext for refusing to bargain with the genuine union of the workers.

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